A ban on visitors is currently in force at Letterkenny General Hospital.
An HSE statement released today read: “Due to the presence of the Winter Vomiting Bug, no visitors will be allowed to visit the hospital at this time to help curtail the spread of infection.
“There will be allowances made for the maternity department where fathers will be allowed to visit and parents may visit children in the Paediatric Deparment.
“In cases where a patient is critically ill, a nominated next of kin should ring the ward in advance to make arrangements to visit.
“All appropriate infection control measures are being taken to deal with the situation at the hospital at the moment and the ban on visiting will remain in place until the wards are free from the outbreak. We are appealing to the public to adhere strictly to the ban on visiting.
“Letterkenny General Hospital wishes to thank patients and the public for their cooperation and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) confirmed that 190 cases of the winter vomiting bug (norovirus) were notified to them the week before last and a further 115 last week. There were also numerous reports of outbreaks affecting hospitals, nursing homes and hotels around the country.
According to the HSPC, 50 cases would be regarded as high in a normal week.
HPSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr Paul McKeown, advised: “Members of the public can help stop the spread of illness by respecting hospital and nursing home visitor restrictions and by using the alcohol gel supplied as they enter and leave the facilities.
“While Out Patient Departments and Emergency Departments are not affected, patients are asked not to attend hospital if they have been affected by vomiting and/or diarrhoea in the last 48 hours.
“Handwashing with soap and water - especially after contact with someone who is ill and after using the toilet - is also extremely important, particularly if you are or have been sick.
“When norovirus, which is highly infectious and very resilient, gets into hospitals or nursing homes, it can cause serious disruption, for example ward closures, cancelled operations and added pressure on emergency departments. It is important that ill and vulnerable patients in these settings do not become more ill than they already are.”